Upon Closer Inspection #8: Beta Patch Change Screenshots

I uploaded a bunch more screens from the new patch, all of them showing off new features and changes. Most of them are in my two part mega patch report from yesterday, which you should look over if you missed it — literally every new feature and tweak in the beta is covered, plus there’s lots of details on Wizard skill changes, difficulty and experience curve modifications, and more.

I mention those now because there were numerous screenshots showing new beta stuff in those, plus numerous additional shots that didn’t fit. And that’s what this post is doing; sharing all the new visuals, with useful info about all of the shots and their contents.

The Nephalem Altar is the new shrine-like obelisk in town that players must click in order to respec skills. They’re not just found in town though, at least early in the game. Until you get your Stone of Recall, there’s an Nephalem Altar right at the start of each new area, the last of which is on the first level of the Cathedral. As you see in the shot on the right.

The new character selection and log in screens are best-viewed in a video, but you can enjoy the higher quality image in a screenshot as well, on the left. There’s nothing new about the in-game interfaces, though they’ve received tweaks. Lots of new tooltips (shown later in this article), but one nice addition to the skill interface is that your currently-selected skills now have an ornate silver border around them. Previously they were just highlighted in a brighter color than the other skills.

Click through for many more, including all the new tooltip pop ups, the skeleton-free Den of the Fallen, the buggy visuals of new monster modifier Mortar, Leoric’s cinematic changes, the new (lame) version of Arcane Enchanted boss mods, and other cool stuff.

The new boss mod Mortar is interesting; it basically makes the boss (or champion) constantly emit small firebombs in every direction. At Blizzcon the devs said these were meant to inconvenience ranged attackers, since many of the other boss mods were much tougher for melee characters. Things like Molten and Frozen and Electrified, that send out elemental damage from the spot of the boss. I only faced two bosses with Mortar, and they were both fast-moving melee monsters, so in both those instances the mod wasn’t any easier for melee than ranged. In theory though, a melee character would have many of the mortars fly over their head, while a ranged character could not so easily stand out of range.

The amusing thing about Mortar at this point is the buggy nature of the graphics, with big pink squares appearing for a frame or two on the ground, rather than proper explosions. This is in the known issues on the patch readme.txt, and will obviously be fixed before the final game.

The other big boss modifier change below shows the new form of Arcane Enchanted bosses, which has met with fairly-universal dislike from beta testers and others in the Diablo community. Previously this mod caused lots of single-headed Hydras to pop up and unleash rapid-fire Arcane balls. These hurt, and many an unwary player died very quickly to this mod. It wasn’t really that dangerous; you just had to pay attention and relocate quickly, several times during each battle with such a boss. But that was too big of a “difficulty spike” for so early in the game, so now Arcane Enchanted bosses spawn these weird straight lines of arcane energy.

They rotate like second hands, with the thin end moving around in a large, slow circle, and of course doing damage if they hit you. The damage per second is much lower than the previous Hydra attacks, and these are much slower and easier to dodge. Difficulty aside though, they’re just lame. There is a loud electrical noise as they turn, and that, along with their smooth, mechanical nature makes them feel like part of a bank’s security system in a movie, rather than a magical effect in a fantasy video game. Why the developers didn’t just keep the Arcane dragons, but slow down their rate of fire/damage, I can’t say.

At any rate, this is easily the least popular change in the patch, from my informal beta player survey.

The wide-brimmed, pointy Wizard hat was in the beta before, but it was a fairly high level item and had to find. The ilvl has been lowered, judging by how many of these I found even very early on, they’re only for Wizards, and tend to come with useful spell-casting type stats. You can see a couple of very low level versions in the comparison image on the left. And yes, they pretty much make you look like Gandalf, especially if you’re carrying a big ass two-handed zweihander sword in order to test the weapon damage = spell damage changes.

The Den of the Fallen is one of the cooler mini-dungeons in the beta… or at least it was, with an original tile set (lots of narrow tunnels with huge tree roots poking through the walls), and tons of Fallen skeletons. It’s something of a mysterious level, with all the dead Fallen appearing before you’ve actually seen any live ones.

Prior to this patch I figured it was a level from later in the game that they’d moved into the Beta for variety, and that we’ll probably have seen lots of live Fallen before we get to it. (It didn’t make the cut into my article about how the beta is much different than the final game, but it was definitely contributing evidence.)

I’m less certain of that now, since the level in this version of the beta is just an interesting cave with a few rotting Fallen Shaman corpses here and there. There are still some skeletons, but so few that they don’t give the creepy sense that there was some sort of Fallen massacre, and the level didn’t seem wildly out of place in the beta anymore. Though it is still weird to get Fallen Shamen, rotting corpses or not, before you see any live ones.

(Another theory is that this level is an homage to the Den of Evil, the first quest dungeon in Diablo II, which was also a cave with a lot of live Fallen. Could be, could be… though there are many other monsters than Fallen in the D2 dungeon, and the architecture is much different. The D3 Den is a series of organic tunnels, like a rabbit warren, rather than D2’s much larger and more open series of caverns.)

Leoric’s ghostly death cinematic is changed slightly, in that all you see at first is his glowing sword. I described this in my big patch report, and the caption in the image explains things as well, so just click it for the details.

Chests are less common now, but more noticeable, with a silver glow around them. This doesn’t mean they drop big loot; in fact I think they drop less than they did earlier in the beta. But they’re certainly more visible.

There are still DiabloWikiTranscendent Chests as well, which have a golden glow (unchanged in this patch) and drop many more items. They’re very rare though, only appearing in a few preset locations. Sometimes they’re always there; such as one on the second level of the Den of the Fallen, with others that appear some small percent of the time in other non-random locations. The only one I got in my play time was in the Den of the Fallen, and its drop was underwhelming.

There are various tweaks to the mini-map, such clearer marks for dungeon exits/entrances, bigger dots for quest NPCs, an icon for the Nephalem Altar, and something you see in the shot below; a big glowing monster icon for the Skeleton King.

No other monster had such a map demarcation, so I guess it’s only for certain big time quest bosses. I don’t see why Leoric needs this, since you’re not going to lose him in his own small throne room, and even if he’s off the visible screen it’s hard to pinpoint him from the big icon on the tiny map anyway. Perhaps other quest bosses/act bosses more around more and you need the map help? Or perhaps it’s just a cool thing some developer thought to add, to put a bit more special feeling into big boss battles.

Finally, there are a lot of new tooltips that explain the basic game features. Super basic stuff that only people who are brand new to video games would need. But as the developers keep telling us, they want Diablo to be very accessible to such people.. This stuff only pops up in the very early going, for the most part, and you can turn them off in the options, so I can’t see anyone complaining too much.

A few examples: unlocked skill slot, picked up an item, it’s the Nephalem Altar, you’ve taken damage, quest monster spotted, even one telling you that you are in town. I’ve stuck a few thumbs below; see the Beta Screenshots gallery for all nine of them.

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15 thoughts on “Upon Closer Inspection #8: Beta Patch Change Screenshots

  1. I like almost everything except the “arcane lawn sprinkler”…Nephalem altars are a brilliant idea, by proper spacing of these, respec can actually be made interesting and thought-provoking. 

    The graphics seem somewhat better too…though it may just be my optimism about this patch in general. Did they finally implement anti-aliasing (i.e. enable that FSAA option)? The display looks a bit crisper and neater somehow.

    • Yes, AA is available in this patch and turned on for these screenshots.  That said, my system is fairly near the minimum requirements with an old video card, so I’m sure things will look much better on a higher end system.

    • I do hope the “old” Arcane-modified bosses make a proper  return in higher difficulties at least.

    • I have recently learned that this is not the site for you.  Give the webmasters props tho, they dish out a lot of D3 info.

      • Hey, this is by leagues the best diablo site. No amount of wow-bashing could chase me away, but that does not mean I cannot make requests for less of it.
        My main problem with it is that I want this to be the go-to source for all new Diablo players. I think that is jeopardised if a lot of incoming wow players turn around at the door by what is obviously a hostile environment to them.
        I’m not asking anyone to change their opinion of wow, I certainly have my reservations, just dial down the bashing a couple of notches to make this a more friendly environment for new players. 
        On a side note, anyone claiming wow is easier than d2, I dare you to compare the difficulty of taking down the hardest heroic raid bosses to the pandemonium event.

  2. Hear hear. I recently played it for the first time till around level 20, the free thing. I did not think I’d ever say this – but WoW is STILL amazingly immersive (after SEVEN years!) and an incredible work of art. Give it and its players some respect.

  3. Considering the difficulty and strats required for bosses in WoW, I think this game will be too easy for WoW players.  

    This game will be difficult for everyone, both new and old players.  I really think Flux has some perverse enjoyment in making those tiny little knocks at wow players and seeing the nerd rage of them.  His epeen enjoys it.

    Btw, I’m a wow player and have also played Diablo 1 and 2.  Pretty sure having played wow that I’ll be able to play this game no problem.

    • Back in the early D2 days, there was a meme (though they weren’t called that then) about how Necromancer’s were “curse bitches” since their minions and /killing power were lame, and they were only useful in MP games for curses that helped the other characters. Many players, including myself, took perverse pleasure in making “curse bitch” references, (me mostly in my old Decahedron columns). Most people found those jokes funny or neutral, while some tiny % of irony-deficient Necro players could always be counted on to get offended. Which was, of course, the whole goal, since their antics were  invariably more amusing than the jokes themselves, which were, after all, fairly rote.

      I’m delighted that an identical pattern of events has unfolded in the Diablo community, but I wouldn’t have predicted it would be the “WoW players are noobs” meme. Going back a year or so, I’d have bet on the “male Wizard is a wimp” meme being the one.

      Just shows you never really know.

  4. Looks like there are a lot of changes not listed in the patch notes… Just looking at the skill calculator for the witch doctor after the patch, several rune stone bonuses have been dialed back. Crimson on dogs 40% to 36%, crimson health return on haunt reduced as well as damage on alabaster, gargantuan cleave damage from indigo down considerably, and several others. I think there were more passives added besides the ones listed as well (don’t recall seeing spirit vessel before, but my memory is bad). Zombie dog damage is finally listed as a percentage of weapon damage. Probably more than a good page full of changes for each class.

    • Are you accounting for the fact that the skill calc now uses lvl 4 runes, while it used to show lvl 7?

      • Yeah. I checked the stats on the calculator before patch and after. Lvl 4 runes were showing before the patch. There are quite a few damage changes that went unlisted.

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